Members of the Class 4A fourth-place Paola Lady Panther cheerleading squad are (in front, from left) Katelyn Gibson, Livi Beets, Emi Zeller, Haleigh West; (second row) coach Regina Hollinger, Kylee Slyter, Bailey Gagenbin, Kayle Mahanke, Carlie Stallbaumer, Taylor Murdock, Gracie Richmond, Molly Eilts, Tyler Rosner, Justice Quillin; (back row) Jacie Collier, Alea Russell, Brett Hudgeson, Liv Meredith, Cynrah Ova and Halle Schlegel.

TOPEKA — The Paola Spirit Squad wrote some school history in 2021, winning the Kansas State High School Activities Association Spirit Game Day Class 4A state title for the program’s first state championship.

Paola was the sixth and final team to advance to the championship round on Saturday, Nov. 21, at the Stormont Vail Events Center in Topeka. Paola was one of 16 teams competing in the state event.

Members of the Panther Spirit Squad state championship team are: Cameron Grandon, Tia Swinton, Taylor White, Jailynn Taylor, Kylee Slyter, Carlie Stallbaumer, Mika Menefee, Reece Browning, McKenna Bueker, CJ Ova, Ziggy Ova, Wilson Wright, Jacie Collier, Brett Hudgeons, Kayle Mahankie, Bailey Gagnebin, Alisea Dillon, Emma Johnson, Lillee Ball and Angelina Blanc. Paola is coached by Regina Hollinger and Hannah Hasselquist.

This is the first year Paola joined its cheerleading squad and dance team into one unit, called the Panther Spirit Squad. It is the first state championship for the program and the eighth in school history.

Hollinger was the coach for the Paola Panther cheerleading squad.

Hasselquist was coach for the Paola Panther dance team.

The Paola cheerleading squad placed fourth in the Spirit Game Day state competition in 2019. They made it into the finals during the virtual game day competition in 2020.

Paola just barely got into the final round, sitting in sixth place with its scores from the first three rounds. This took off a lot of the pressure for the finals, Hasselquist said.

Sports Editor Gene Morris can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or gene.morris@miconews.com.

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